Intentional Interim Minister Rev. Kyle Harris's Page

November 2021 Caller Article

We are embarking on an exceptionally busy time of year.  The Thanksgiving holiday launches the preparation for Christmas and the New Year.  Family gatherings, parties, and general hustle and bustle are the norm for these next 8 weeks or so.  Usually, (and especially in the age of COVID) I might advocate that the Church should offer a different way of being to the rest of the world -- to slow down, take something out of your life to reduce stress and add meaning in a different way.  However, this year, I think the Church, particularly this congregation, should jump right in the festive waters with both feet.

(OK, take a moment to re-read the last sentence.)  Yes, I did say to fill up your schedule this holiday season -- from the week of Thanksgiving all the way through January 6 (Epiphany which ends the Christmas season).  With the caveat of COVID safety, go crazy with parties -- for work, for friends, and for family.  Get out in the middle of the shops and the malls, the traffic and everything that goes with it -- except the poor, frustrated attitude.  Start putting up your decorations now.  Don’t wait until everybody else is doing it.  

You might be thinking that I have already dipped into the spiked eggnog -- who tells us to get busier during this time of year?  Here’s why.  At this time of year (November through the New Year), all of the messages we hear are about being thankful, grateful, merry, and happy for everything in your life.  Honestly, it’s a little too sweet -- fake sweet, like, saccharine on steroids.  Our (my -- but stay with me) reaction, then, is to pull inward and become cynical to it all.  When that happens, we dwell on the things that aren’t going well, the people and things that we have lost, our hurts and our pains -- physical and emotional.  We don’t feel like celebrating.  When we don’t feel like celebrating, we won’t.  We will miss out on the rich joy of the season.

Mother Teresa used to be questioned all the time about how she was able to maintain her hopeful spirit as she encountered so much suffering around her.  Her response:  Fake it until you make it.  When she didn’t feel hopeful, but others expected her to offer hope in the midst of despair, she pushed herself into feeling hopeful -- until she WAS hopeful.

Advent begins at the end of this month, on November 28.  Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy are the themes of each Sunday in Advent.  You will not want to miss this important time as we prepare our hearts, minds, and lives for the coming of the Christ Child -- once again.  I hope that this year, you will discover anew the meaning of God’s breaking-in to our world in such a significant way.

Grateful Thanks, Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy don’t just happen, they are continually cultivated by our relationship with God and one another.  I invite you to discover anew how each of these is alive and vibrant in your life of faith.  Let’s get busy!

I’ll see you Sunday.


October 2021 Caller Article 

As I begin my ministry with you, I want to express my gratitude to each of you for the opportunity to serve as your pastor during this time of transition.  Interim ministry can be a strange concept to many.  Since the advent of being clergy as a profession, all ministries are interim in nature.  Very rarely do congregations form under the leadership of one pastor and that pastor stays for their whole ministry.  Clergy move from congregation to congregation – but the ministry of the congregation continues.  So, being in an intentionally interim ministry, what does that ministry look like?  Why is what we do now important for the future of the congregation?

There are three biblical images of interim ministry that provide structure to our life together.  First, the people of Israel left slavery in Egypt on their journey to the Promised Land.  What they thought was supposed to be a short journey became 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  Many important things happened to the people of Israel during those 40 years.  That journey from one reality (slavery) to a new life (in the Promised Land) informed and shaped the people and their community.

Second, in preparation for Jesus’ public ministry, he spent 40 days in the wilderness in prayer and fasting.  In this time, Jesus gained clarity about who he was as the Son of God and what his ministry on earth would look like.  Jesus resisted temptation and prepared himself for the journey to the Cross and Empty Tomb.  The third biblical image for interim ministry is fixed in the person of John the Baptizer (aka Baptist – he wasn’t a Baptist, he was a baptizer).  John preached the message of Jesus’ coming that he would be the savior of God’s people.

Each of these images is important to keep in mind as we begin our life together.  There are things we need to learn on our journey toward your next settled minister.  There are trials and temptations that we will endure as the congregation gains clarity around what your ministry will look like in the future.  I am here as your temporary shepherd to nurture you and guide you into your next phase of ministry.

What that ministry looks like is up to you – you have the opportunity to shape a reality in this community that will embody Christ’s resurrection.  One of the things we understand about the Gospel of Mark’s account of Easter is that the ending of the Easter Story has yet to be written.  As 21st Century Christians, we understand that we are an Easter people and we can’t hesitate to proclaim, “Christ is risen!”  From that first Easter moment to now, the old rules have been abolished as life triumphs over death, hope overcomes despair.  This is the Easter world in which we live, no matter the time of year.

I look forward to helping you write the next chapter in the ministry of Central Christian Church.  I am honored to be with you in this time.

I’ll see you Sunday.